By Justine Kraemer, GAC Volunteer Writer
Samantha Blair White is a Princess. Perhaps not in the literal sense, but her art is inspired by these incredible characters that have captivated generations of children. She has taken that inspiration, and channeled what makes these stories so captivating into her own work. She has tapped into this power to tell some of her own stories, in her debut poetry collection, ‘Sam White and the Seven Inner Demons’.
White is among the many artists who found themselves at a crossroads during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They were living with their brother in Toronto, working a dream job in fashion merchandising. When the world shut down, White saw an opportunity for artistic growth. “I watched Rupi Kaur’s Instagram Live on self-publishing”, White says. After questioning whether starting a photography blog would be the right choice, they eventually turned their focus instead to writing and poetry.
Creative writing classes at Conestoga College and Fanshawe College proved to be a critical venue for developing White’s writing skills. As part of an assignment, White presented a collection of poetry. From there, she decided that compiling works around the same theme into a chapbook. A chapbook refers to a small book of approximately 30-40 pages. It has its origin in early-modern Europe. Since that time, they have experienced a resurgence, and remain a popular way to showcase poetry and short stories today.
When developing “Sam White and the Seven Innter Demons”, White explored flow, and found it important for each poem in this collection to seamlessly blend together. “Each poem has the last line that flows into the first of the following one”, White said in a recent interview. This flow was important to White when creating this collection, in crafting an over-arching narrative for readers.
White calls upon forest imagery frequently throughout ‘Sam White and the Seven Inner Demons’. Specifically, they frequently make use of the image of a fairytale woods to depict the setting of a journey. They portrayed the duality of this setting, based in fear and terror, but also in beauty in possibility. “The same reader can attach two different meanings to the same story,” White said. The use of woods as a setting to explore the author’s journey draws everything in the collection together.
White spoke about how important it was to portray various points of view throughout this collection. Specifically, they set out to capture the dissociative experience, by shifting between a first person point of view to a third person point of view. “I’ve felt this way, and I’ve never been able to put it into words”, they said. It was important, they said, to portray this experience, so others might see themselves and their own lived experiences.
Relatedly, White spoke about her healing journey, and how the artform has always played an integral role. “Whenever I’ve stopped writing, I realized how much I miss it,” she said, while describing her journaling process. White’s debut work focuses intently on the experience of healing ones’ inner child. It’s frankly aspirational, in a world where so many of us have inner children in need of love and healing.
White also spoke about Princess imagery, calling particularly upon the famous work by another local author, Robert Munsch. One of their final poems in this collection was going to be entitled “Princess Elizabeth”, in reference to the iconic character. White managed to capture this character’s spirit throughout the collection, and mirror Princess Elizabeth’s journey to rescue herself and be her own hero.
In terms of what’s next for Samantha Blair White, they are proud to be a part of the inaugural County of Wellington Writer’s Festival, and presented their work as part of the closing ceremonies. They read a selection from their book, and were joined by Eric Walters and Maureen Jennings among other local authors. They have another book being released this summer, “This Script is From the Past”.
Samantha Blair White is exactly the voice we as a community need to hear. Their bravery in speaking their truth, and sharing their healing journey in an authentic way will no doubt inspire others to do the same. They are at the very beginning of their career. We can look forward to more great things from this incredible artist in the very near future.
Samatha Blair White’s debut poetry collection, ‘Sam White and the Seven Inner Demons’, is available at Cordial Clove Books.